Is this commute too long for an outstanding prep school?

(15 Posts)
Dovahkiin Sun 20-Mar-16 09:45:03

I will be starting at a new school in September which entitles me to a 30% fee reduction. It's a highly selective 4-18 school - if DD managed to enter with the 4+ in September 2017, she would automatically enter the senior school later on. I'd love to avoid the 11+ stresses later on, and it is an amazing school. However, it's a 30 minute drive with no traffic, 50 minutes more likely for an 8.15 start. I'm concerned that the length of journey would be too tiring when DD is small, and she would miss out on local friendship networks. There is a local option - less selective and it's only prep but it is literally across the road. Any advice?

LIZS Sun 20-Mar-16 09:48:15

Tricky one. What if you decide to move schools in a few years' time? Do they offer wraparound care for days you need to stay longer? I do know teachers at dc school who did similar but it might be easier for a 7yo than a 4yo. I think I'd keep dc local until they were a bit older.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Sun 20-Mar-16 09:53:09

Is there any possibility of moving closer?

I think that's too long. We were 20 mins away (25 on bad day) and that was almost too far. Play dates, matches, etc made it difficult. Some of the dcs best friends were 20 minutes the other side of the school which meant an awful lot of miles and time spent in the car,,

Mumoftwoyoungkids Sun 20-Mar-16 09:58:26

We live in a city. My Dd is at her catchment primary school. (It isn't the closest) It's about 1.5 miles away.

There are three ways we get her to / from there.

1. Walking. Technically I can do it in 20 mins but I like to allow 30. Takes more like 45 mins with her with me.
2. Cycling. Dh takes her on the back of a bike 4 mornings a week. He aims to leave 20 mins before school starts to allow terrible traffic and locking the bike up when he gets there.
3 Car - traffic is terrible so need to allow 20 - 25 mins.

So the commute isn't that much more than most kids have.

Living far from friends is more of a problem. Last minute play dates would be difficult.

The biggest problem for you though would be the fact that you'd be trapped at the school (or one very close) for the next 14 years.

BikeRunSki Sun 20-Mar-16 10:05:17

I commute 30-50 mins depending on traffic, and that's tiring enough! I'm not sure I'd want DS to do it. I take him to breakfast club at school, across the road on my way, or walk him (5mins ) on my non working days. But then he goes to an Outstanding First school, which feeds into Outstanding Middle and High schools.

ClashCityRocker Sun 20-Mar-16 10:08:26

So you'd have to leave at 7.25?

What time would you get home?

If you left the school, how much of an issue would this cause?

As it's a selective fee-paying school, I'm not sure how much an issue not living so close will be in terms of friendships - as it will be non-catchment, many of the kids will be from further afield than a state primary, I suspect, so wonder if both schools might have the same issue with friendship groups? Of course, you know the local cohort better, I can only go by what happens round here but it's not unusual for kids to travel an hour plus to fee-paying schools.

jo164 Sun 20-Mar-16 10:19:29

I'd take her with you. Would she need wrap around care at either end of the day anyway if you are commuting? If so I'm sure she'd rather be with you, even if it's in the car. I live 3 miles from where I teach (children are also at the school) and it can take 25 mins on a bad day! It also gives you flexibility as a teacher to adapt to things that happen in the day which may make you later, earlier, have to take daughter home sick etc.

minipie Sun 20-Mar-16 10:20:39

That sounds like the commute I did to school when little (also to a selective 4-18 private).

The friendship/playdate thing was ok as there were a number of pupils who lived in my area - though this may be because there were no preps in my area, the far away one was the only prep option, so maybe it would be different for you. You could ask the school registrar how many families live in your area and that will give you an idea?

As regards the commute, I definitely remember it being a BIG stress to get out of the house in the morning on time, and also I was often late. I didn't do many (any?) school clubs because we did a carpool so as to share the commute between parents. By the time I got home it was quite late so homework often got pushed to after tea so I was tired by then. Also never learned an instrument, I suspect lack of time for practice was a factor.

So there were definitely quite a few downsides to the commute...

On the other hand I completely avoided the 11+ stress as went straight through. And it's got a lot more competitive and stressful since my day (esp if you're talking about London).

It depends how sure you are that the 4-18 school is the right school for your DD long term. If you are then it's probably worth it. But can you really be sure when she's only 3...?

RTKangaMummy Sun 20-Mar-16 10:23:04

Ok so if she went to the school over the road you would still have to leave at 7.25 and arrive home after how ever long it took to drive home, plus meetings, parents evenings etc after the school bell goes, so what would DD do or who would look after her at home?

If she went to the same school as you then if they had after school club she could possibly stay there while you were in meetings or parents evenings but she wouldn't then need to wait for the extra time it would take you to get home

Are you in the senior side of the school? Which would also presumably mean a later finish time than preprep or prep

Our DS went to private senior school in NW London at 11 and yes his friends came from all over the place, not local really, but you are years off that stage, perhaps ask in the school office about the areas her friends might come from

incywincybitofa Mon 21-Mar-16 10:25:30

We have a similar commute-and actually ruled out the school at your DDs age for our DS as I felt the commute was too long. We do regret not starting at the school in pre-prep because we have dropped into a rhythm of the commute- the earlier starts you get used to.
His commute to his other school actually took as long most days owing to traffic and road works and walking took as long, and probably wasn't healthier with all the traffic fumes.

I think one thing to bear in mind is tiredness, she will be too tired for playdates whatever her school and the commute can be a good covering excuse for this.
Yes it is a long commute- but I find DS chills out on the way home in the car, and on the way in it is a good chance to chat or practice things like spellings
But I think the children are too tired for playdates in the week. And often very busy at week-ends.
In an independent school some of the children may live close to each other but honestly most don't and things just get worked out.
If your daughter ends up in the right school it will all just work itself out. You will probably find there are other children nearer where you are
You might move
You may well find the traffic is lighter at 725 although I assume if you are teaching you will probably need to be in school by 715/730?

Needmorewine Mon 21-Mar-16 10:32:14

I would take it like a shot ! I think the positives outweigh the negative - the journey home could be a nice wind down time for her / catch up for you both - little snack, story tape on and chat about the day. Congrats on the new job OP.

Dovahkiin Mon 21-Mar-16 22:43:35

Thank you all so much for your detailed responses! I will be converting this thread into a pros and cons chart, largely because I am quite sad. We're due to visit on an open day in the next couple of months but I have a gut feeling this isn't the right thing for DD and my future career. At least I have a year before I need to make a final decision, and nine months to get my head around the 4+.

incywincybitofa Tue 22-Mar-16 09:10:55

If you don't feel it is quite right then maybe it isn't.
We made the mistake of putting DS into what was supposedly a great school, but it wasn't, I really regret not following my gut

theredjellybean Wed 23-Mar-16 14:18:35

my dds did that length commute to their prep school, younger dd from kindergarten age.

Yep long days and if you working them too , be prepared for being knackered but you get used to it.

You have to accept when they are little it is ...home, supper, bath, bed....monday to friday.

but i guess that would also depend on finsih time of school. Mine didn't finish until 6 pm, though i could get little one earlier 2 days a week so did.

friends often in same boat and playdates usually meant sleepovers...

christmaswreaths Wed 23-Mar-16 19:01:22

We went for the local outstanding primary across the road and switched to the prep in Y3 and Y4 (different children, different years). The prep is half an hour drive or an hour on the school bus.

Initially the local primary was great, out of the house at 8:50 and back at 3:40. However, as my children got older, the vast majority of children were being carted all over after school for clubs; swimming, karate, ballet, football, rugby, athletics, French, you name it! So it was impossible/very difficult to organise play dates in the week, plus with more than one child (four for us), days became really long as the list of extracurricular became longer and they all got dragged along with their siblings. Also for working parents it would be after school club until 5 or 6pm and before school club in some cases.

So in the end we moved them. People feel sorry for my children as they comment on "what a long day" they have, but they are back home at 4:30 or 5pm every day and do not have to then go back out for activities, as they do absolutely everything at school, so they can just relax when they come home. Play dates are mainly at weekends or school holidays but they seem happy with that. Also they get tired but not as much as I thought they would do, and they love the school bus as it is one hour to chill out, mess around with their friends. They play card games, watch films, chat about their day and exchange cards, it isn't just sit there and be bored until they get home.

Good luck, we agonised loads about it but it's not too bad. Medium to long term you can always choose to move.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now